During last cross season I received an email from my helmet sponsor Kali Protectives. They asked me if I wanted to come to America to do bikeraces. They would love to have me over and I was allowed to choose everything I wanted to do myself.
This was an unique chance to come back to my former summer love of mountain bike racing! I made a nice program of races that allowed me to do a nice trip through America and to visit some of the best places in the world to ride and race on the mountain bike. The only problem was that my old hardtail mountain bike wouldn't be enough to tackle this terrain over here. Booking planetickets to America is relative simple but to organise a top model mountain bike for such a trip is a lot harder. I lost count of the amount of phonecalls I made and emails I sent, when it came down to organising the right wheels for the bike that was actually even one of the quickest items that I got organised.
I flew to America with a full suspension mountain bike and with my road bike. I needed wheels that could survive the trip, the two months of ripping on the trails but also to be light and stiff enough to be able to function as my racing wheels. As soon as I arrived in America I was happy with my aluminium wheels! When I unpacked my Evoc Biketravel XL bag (easy fits two bikes) and I put my frontwheel in my bike I saw it was a bit bent during the flight/baggage handling, but it was easy to straighten it again so I could hit the trails!
Last month I did my first race of the American program and that was the Whiskey50 in Prescott, Arizona. Unfortunately this turned out to be a disappointment. Even though I already calculated that this first race wouldn't be a success I still have a hard time accepting bad performances even after the huge amount if races I already did in my life. I know I am not in top shape at the moment and that is also good, cross season is still far away but I am still in good shape and have put already a lot of training in. I arrived in Prescott one week before the race, and this race starts at 1500 meters and goes to 2200 meters.
The American/Canadian top mountain bikers weren't my biggest opponents but the altitude turned out to be my biggest rival. I had a hard time breathing and couldn't put in the efforts I am normally used to, therefore I really had to ride much slower to stay fresh during this long marathon race that got really technical in the last one and a half hour. Already at the first long climb of the day I had to take it easy and I found myself in the middle of the field. After all the climbing I could overtake around 10-15 riders in on the technical downhill and singletrack sections but I still ended up at a 42nd place.
If I look back now, a few days later, I think I can be satisfied with the way I handled my bike and the way I rode on this course. The trainingrides are going much better here in the altitude as I am getting used to it more and more.
My return flight to Europe is at the 16th of June and until then I won't go below 1500 meters anymore.
The main events that are waiting for me are the Grand Junction offroad in Colorado, the Iron Horse in Durango Colorado and I finish this trip off at the GoPro games in Colorado!
I flew in to San Jose in California and stayed there first for a week, now I am a while in Prescott in Arizona and from here I will there I will travel up north and I will go in stages towards Golden in Colorado to stay there for almost a month.
Look out for more from Gosse in the coming weeks!